Natan and the Jewish Book Council are thrilled to announce two Fall 2019 Natan Notable Books: Susie Linfield’s The Lion’s Den: Zionism and the Left from Hannah Arendt to Noam Chomsky (Yale University Press, 2019) and Bari Weiss’s How to Fight Anti-Semitism (Crown, 2019).
Natan Notable Books at the Jewish Book Council is an evolution of the Natan Book Award, which was previously awarded to Matti Friedman’s Spies of No Country (2018) and Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land (2013). Twice a year, Natan Notable Books recognizes recently-published or about-to-be-published non-fiction books that promise to catalyze conversations aligned with the themes of Natan’s grantmaking: reinventing Jewish life and community for the twenty-first century, shifting notions of individual and collective Jewish identity, the history and future of Israel, understanding and confronting contemporary forms of antisemitism, and the evolving relationship between Israel and world Jewry.
The Fall 2019 winners are books that resonate deeply not only with Natan’s grantmaking, but also with each other. In How to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bari Weiss explores the permutations of contemporary antisemitism – on the right, the left, and in radical Islam, each of which has a different kind of intensity and character and none of which can afford to be overlooked. In The Lion’s Den, Susie Linfield untangles the intellectual knots which some prominent twentieth century thinkers on the Left have twisted to disparage and demonize Israel and Zionism.
“The books are in fruitful dialogue with each other,” says Franklin Foer, co-chair of the Natan Notable Books committee. “Weiss’s analysis of contemporary antisemitism from the Left shows some of the effects of Linfield’s subjects’ writing and teaching about Zionism. That the thinkers in Linfield’s study also dealt with murderous antisemitism from fascism or as theologically- and politically-based antisemitism in Muslim countries reminds us that antisemitism has always been, as both writers clearly demonstrate, a multi-headed beast.”
Connecting the books, too, is their authors’ insistence on acknowledging the complexities of the real world and their clear-eyed, rational analysis of troubling and complicated phenomena. “At a time when many people gravitate toward Tweetable oversimplifications of complex problems and to idealistic visions that fail to account for context, history, or the necessities of realpolitik,” says committee co-chair Tali Rosenblatt-Cohen, “both authors remind us that real life is messy and difficult to understand, often requiring people to hold multiple competing ideas in their heads at once.”
Each author will receive a $5,000 cash prize, as well as customized support for promoting the book and its ideas, drawing on Natan’s and Jewish Book Council’s extensive networks throughout the Jewish philanthropic and communal worlds.
The deadline for submission for Spring 2020 Natan Notable Books is January 1. For more information or to submit a title, go to https://www.jewishbookcouncil.org/awards/natan-notable-books. Inquiries can be directed to [email protected].